Live Below the Line: Awards for the best, worst and most helpful go to…

After taking the Live Below the Line challenge to feed
myself for £1 a day for 5 days, this is a round up of the best, worst and most
helpful things along the way.

Drum roll please….

And the award for most useful implement on Live Below the Line goes to…

Tastiest meal: Toss
up between the kidney bean chilli bulked out with sweetcorn, served with rice,
green beans and a spoonful of yogurt on Day 1, or the oat pancakes with yogurt,
pineapple and syrup on Day 5.

Most disappointing
Egg fried rice on Day 4. Without soy sauce, or any meat, it just
tasted blah.

Better than expected:
The soups. Even though they were mostly just veg of one sort or another, water,
a stock cube and maybe a spoonful of rice or oats, they were filling and

Hero ingredient:
Definitely the yogurt. Great as a snack, great dolloped on soups and chili,
even better as home-made cream cheese.

Waste of money:
Probably the onion. Much as I love cooking with onions normally, and add them
here, there and everywhere, I couldn’t really tell the difference between the
soup with onion and the soup without. That’s 9p I’ll never get back again.

Highly recommended
value product:
 Morrisons M Savers
Marmalade for 27p. I ate marmalade on toast every day for 5 days, and am still
looking forward to finishing the jar.

Food I missed the
Tea. Don’t think I’m ever going to get a whole box of Early Grey into
a Below the Line budget though, and still have enough to eat.

Best decision: Choosing
food I genuinely thought I’d like to eat, rather than value processed food like
curry sauce or pasta sauce. The memory of last year’s hideous cheap cheese
slices lingers long, in contrast to this year’s marked-down farmhouse loaf,
which may have been small, but tasted great.

What I’d do
Probably buy more root ginger, so I could add more flavour to
rice and veg dishes, and maybe try ginger tea by adding hot water to slices of

What I’d do the same:
Allow some pennies for salt, pepper and spices. Made a massive difference to
how the food tasted.

Most embarrassing moment:
At the Morrisons checkout, when the till rejected the bar code on my 5p bit of cheese that was
too small to register on the deli counter scales, and the checkout lady had to
call a supervisor to help. And then I didn’t have any change,
and had to pay £3 odd on a credit card. Excuse me while I rock in a corner.

Most insane
separating a bag of frozen vegetables always comes pretty close,
but really helped create varied meals rather than facing boiled mixed
vegetables five days in a row.

Most useful
Definitely my red bendy silicon spatula, for scraping every last bit
out of bowls, boxes and saucepans.

Most helpful websites:
The bloggers with brilliant suggestions for cheap, healthy and appetising food
at tiny prices, who shared their own experiences on Live Below the Line – A GirlCalled Jack, Thrifty Lesley and Natural Kitchen Adventures.

Kindness of
Sue Hall from Our New Life in the Country for donating just when
my morale was lowest, and leaving entertaining comments on my blog. Glad to
know it’s not only my mother reading!

Best quote: According to my husband, I’ve been “surprisingly uncrabby” throughout the week. I’ll polish that halo with pride.

Hardest part of Live Below the Line: Based on the many, many conversations I’ve
had about Live Below the Line, what surprises people is that the hardest part isn’t feeling hungry. When you can fill up on cheap
carbs like oats, rice and bread, you need never feel genuinely, gnawingly

The hardest part is emotional – fear of
being hungry, concern the cheapest items won’t be in stock, worrying about
whether you have enough food to last, delaying meals in case you’re hungry
later, the reluctance to experiment in case you don’t like the result but can’t
waste it, avoiding social events that you can’t afford, always having to plan
ahead or go hungry or thirsty when out, the endless compromises when there isn’t
quite enough, or it isn’t exactly what you want, or the version you can afford
isn’t really nice.

It’s not the headaches, or tiredness, or irritability, or lack
of concentration. It’s all the endless tiny exhausting decisions, and all the
choices denied. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody else, so that’s why I do Live
Below the Line. So rather than doing nothing, I’m doing something, however
small, to ensure someone, somewhere, gets a break from food poverty.

And so, as no awards ceremony would be complete without a
long list of thank yous,

Many, many thanks to:
My husband, for supporting me through Live Below the Line while grappling with
his new job, and everyone who has donated to Unicef via my fund raising page. 

been overwhelmed by the roll call of donors from all parts of my life – family
and friends from school, university, work, committees, school gates and blogs.
It’s wonderful to know your donations could make a real difference to children
living in extreme poverty. Thank you all. 

I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who’s contributed to UNICEF’s vital
work keeping children safe, fed and healthy, especially in the aftermath of the
earthquake in Nepal. 

The campaign remains open right through until the end of June, so
there’s still time to donate!

Here’s the link to my fundraising page: 


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  1. 7th May 2015 / 5:30 pm

    Well I had to pop up just one more time to say YOU DID WELL GIRL .. really well. And thank you for the morale support.

    And both me and your Mum have enjoyed reading every word, see you back here next year!!

  2. 9th May 2015 / 9:38 am

    Thank you!
    Scary prospect that it might be more than just you and my Mum reading about my efforts on Live Below the Line, as I was asked to write an article for the Money section in tomorrow's Sunday Times.

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